Risk of radicalisation

Anyone can be at risk of radicalisation. Find out what makes someone vulnerable to radicalisation, how to tell if someone is at risk and what action you can take.

Who can be vulnerable to radicalisation?

Anyone can be vulnerable to radicalisation, regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, religion, education or background. But there are some factors that can make some people more at risk of being targeted by radicalisers than others.

What factors can increase someone’s vulnerability to radicalisation?

Internal factors

  • Struggling with a sense of identity and feeling confused where they fit in or belong
  • Feeling under threat either personally, or as part of a community
  • Feeling angry or wronged about events like conflicts or terrorist incidents happening in the UK or abroad
  • Mental health issues
  • A traumatic life event like bereavement, or the loss of a job or home
  • Experiencing racism, bullying or discrimination
  • Family issues
  • Feeling left behind

External Factors

  • Community tensions
  • Knowing someone who is expressing extreme views or who have joined extremist organisations or groups
  • Terrorist incidents that have happened in the UK or abroad
  • Events or incidents that are affecting a specific group or community, either in the UK or abroad

How can you tell if someone is at risk of becoming radicalised?

More important than any one sign is the feeling that something is ‘not quite right’ with the person you care about. So it’s important to trust your instincts and if you are worried reach out for some support and advice.

In most cases the behaviours are a result of other issues and nothing to do with radicalisation, but it’s important to act early and share your concerns.

There are some behaviours which we often see when someone is being led down the path towards extremism. You might see one sign increasing in intensity or a combination of different signs.

Behaviours might include

a change in behaviour
changing their circle of friends
isolating themselves from family and friends
talking as if from a scripted speech
unwillingness or inability to discuss their views
a sudden disrespectful attitude towards others
increased levels of anger
increased secretiveness, especially around internet use
accessing extremist material online
using extremist or hate terms to exclude others or incite violence
writing or creating artwork promoting violent extremist messages

You can find out in more detail about the signs to look out for here.

How can you reduce the risk of someone becoming radicalised?

Vulnerable people can be radicalised by someone they know, through direct contact with extremist groups, or online through social media or gaming sites. But there are steps you can take to help reduce the risk.


Talking about the risks of radicalisation can be difficult and it can be hard to know where to start, but by talking about the danger of extremism, you can help make the person you care about become more resilient.


Learn about radicalisation so you can know how to spot the signs and protect your loved one against extremism. Watch a video highlighting the potential dangers of online gaming.


Discover tips on how to keep your child safe on social media and gaming platforms. Internet Matters have lots of useful information for parents as well as a Q&A with psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos on how to keep kids safe online.


If you’re worried then reach out for help. By acting early and sharing your concerns, the person you care about can get the support they need to turn their life around. Watch our video about the support available through the Prevent progamme here.

Still worried someone close could be at risk of being radicalised?

It is really important that you trust your instincts, as you know best when something isn’t quite right with the person you care about.

We are here to listen and can help if you contact us at an early stage. We work with lots of other partners to ensure the right package of support is put in place. That often won’t involve the police, but another partner such as health professional or specialist mentor.


We help thousands of people every year to choose a different pathway, with the majority going on to live fuller and richer lives.

Read some real stories about some of the people we have helped.

Up next

Radicalisation and the internet